Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The molecular basis of thioalcohol production in human body odour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Michelle Rudden, Reyme Herman, Matthew Rose, Daniel Bawdon, Diana S. Cox, Eleanor Dodson, Matthew T. G. Holden, Anthony J. Wilkinson, A. Gordon James, Gavin H. Thomas

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Body odour is a characteristic trait of Homo sapiens, however its role in human behaviour and evolution is poorly understood. Remarkably, body odour is linked to the presence of a few species of commensal microbes. Herein we discover a bacterial enzyme, limited to odour-forming staphylococci that are able to cleave odourless precursors of thioalcohols, the most pungent components of body odour. We demonstrated using phylogenetics, biochemistry and structural biology that this cysteine-thiol lyase (C-T lyase) is a PLP-dependent enzyme that moved horizontally into a unique monophyletic group of odour-forming staphylococci about 60 million years ago, and has subsequently tailored its enzymatic function to human-derived thioalcohol precursors. Significantly, transfer of this enzyme alone to non-odour producing staphylococci confers odour production, demonstrating that this C-T lyase is both necessary and sufficient for thioalcohol formation. The structure of the C-T lyase compared to that of other related enzymes reveals how the adaptation to thioalcohol precursors has evolved through changes in the binding site to create a constrained hydrophobic pocket that is selective for branched aliphatic thioalcohol ligands. The ancestral acquisition of this enzyme, and the subsequent evolution of the specificity for thioalcohol precursors implies that body odour production in humans is an ancient process.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number12500
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2020

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Clinical perspectives in integrating whole genome sequencing into the investigation of healthcare and public health outbreaks – hype or help?

    Parcell, B. J., Gillespie, S. H., Pettigrew, K. A. & Holden, M. T. G., Mar 2021, In: Journal of Hospital Infection. 109, p. 1-9 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Ecosystem engineers drive differing microbial community composition in intertidal estuarine sediments

    Wyness, A. J., Fortune, I., Blight, A. J., Browne, P., Hartley, M., Holden, M. & Paterson, D. M., 19 Feb 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 2, 20 p., e0240952.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Genomic epidemiology reveals multiple introductions of SARS-CoV-2 from mainland Europe into Scotland

    The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, da Silva Filipe, A., Shepherd, J. G., Williams, T., Hughes, J., Aranday-Cortes, E., Asamaphan, P., Ashraf, S., Balcazar, C., Brunker, K., Campbell, A., Carmichael, S., Davis, C., Dewar, R., Gallagher, M. D., Gunson, R., Hill, V., Ho, A., Jackson, B., James, E. & 31 others, Jesudason, N., Johnson, N., McWilliam Leitch, E. C., Li, K., MacLean, A., Mair, D., McAllister, D. A., McCrone, J. T., McDonald, S. E., McHugh, M. P., Morris, A. K., Nichols, J., Niebel, M., Nomikou, K., Orton, R. J., O’Toole, Á., Palmarini, M., Parcell, B. J., Parr, Y. A., Rambaut, A., Rooke, S., Shaaban, S., Shah, R., Singer, J. B., Smollett, K., Starinskij, I., Tong, L., Sreenu, V. B., Wastnedge, E., Holden, M. T. G. & Robertson, D. L., Jan 2021, In: Nature Microbiology. 6, p. 112-122 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. "Gene accordions" cause genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity in clonal populations of Staphylococcus aureus

    Belikova, D., Jochim, A., Power, J., Holden, M. T. G. & Heilbronner, S., 14 Jul 2020, In: Nature Communications. 11, 15 p., 3526.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. An open access dataset for developing automated detectors of Antarctic baleen whale sounds and performance evaluation of two commonly used detectors

    Miller, B. S., The IWC-SORP/SOOS Acoustic Trends Working Group, Balcazar, N., Nieukirk, S., Leroy, E. C., Aulich, M., Shabangu, F. W., Dziak, R. P., Lee, W. S., Hong, J. K. & Harris, D., 12 Jan 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 18 p., 806.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Avoiding gauge ambiguities in cavity quantum electrodynamics

    Rouse, D. M., Lovett, B. W., Gauger, E. M. & Westerberg, N., 19 Feb 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 10 p., 4281.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Bayesian Network Analysis reveals resilience of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita to an Irish Sea regime shift

    Mitchell, E. G., Wallace, M. I., Smith, V. A., Wiesenthal, A. A. & Brierley, A. S., 12 Feb 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 1, 14 p., 3707.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Rats show direct reciprocity when interacting with multiple partners

    Kettler, N., Schweinfurth, M. K. & Taborsky, M., 5 Feb 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 8 p., 3228.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. The impact of injury on apparent survival of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area, Maldives

    Harvey-Carroll, J., Stewart, J. D., Carroll, D., Mohamed, B., Shameel, I., Zareer, I. H., Araujo, G. & Rees, R., 13 Jan 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 15 p., 937.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Matt Carter (Reviewer)

    2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Manon Karin Schweinfurth (Member of editorial board)

    1 Aug 2019 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Alan J. Stewart (Member of editorial board)

    Jun 2019 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Matt Carter (Reviewer)

    2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  5. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Monica Arso Civil (Reviewer)

    Jul 2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

ID: 269483989

Top